Thousands of extra-large rainbow trout will be released at locations around the state this summer as the as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife enters the second year of its “Trophy Trout” program.
Bred to fight, more large rainbow trout than ever are being released at locations around the state this year, adding excitement to what is already one of Oregon’s most popular outdoor activities—trout fishing. ODFW considers a trout a “trophy” once it reaches a length of 15 inches. The department will release more than 65,000 of these fish into Oregon waters in 2017.
ODFW has been releasing large trout for years into many lakes around the state. However, during the 2015 legislative session, Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) worked with ODFW to program even more big fish into the mix through a Trophy Trout pilot program, which focused on using bigger fish to promote economic development in communities that rely on hunting and fishing dollars.
Initially, five waterbodies were designated as Trophy Trout lakes—Phillips Reservoir in Baker County, Willow Creek Reservoir in Morrow County, Timothy Lake in Clackamas County, Trojan Pond in Columbia County, and Garrison Lake in Curry County. So far this year, ODFW has released a total of 10,500 trophy trophy trout to jumpstart angler success. Dozens of other locations will receive an additional 55,000 trophies before trout stocking ends in the fall.
First reactions to the program have been positive. At Timothy Lake, a mid-elevation Trophy Trout lake on the Mt. Hood National Forest, biologists are tagging both 8-inch and trophy-sized trout in an effort to get them to call with information about their experience. With stunning views of Mt. Hood, Timothy is generating some buzz among anglers both for its trophy trout and kokanee salmon.
“Almost every angler we talked to was very happy about their fishing experience at Timothy Lake,” said North Willamette District Fish Biologist Todd Alsbury, who would like to see the program expanded even further. Alsbury said he expects angler enthusiasm to grow throughout the summer as the larger fish begin to move around in the lake and anglers begin to discover effective methods of catching them.
Bill Duke, the district fish biologist in Pendleton, reported similar results. “So far the angler response has been excellent,” said Duke, who also implemented a tag reward program on one of the other Trophy Trout lakes – Willow Creek Reservoir, where anglers have returned six of 15 tags worth $50 each. “Anglers seem to be putting in considerably more angling effort than I was expecting,” he said. “They are very positive about the larger-sized trout.”
Trophy trout are generally two years old, according to Jake Rice, manager of ODFW’s Roaring River trout hatchery. He noted that as the fish get larger they need more space and food to minimize stress from rearing densities. As with bigger fish, they take more food based on body weight. The additional time in the hatchery means staff needs to keep an eye on potential disease issues longer with the additional year of rearing. All of the fish are inspected monthly by a pathologist, and feed programs are updated on a daily basis to account for size, density, water flow, water temperatures and release date.
“We really stress the importance of health fish, and this take a little more effort and time over the additional year of rearing,” he said, noting there are additional costs associated with bigger fish. There are extra costs associated with raising larger fish but he sees the benefits. “Our biggest compliments come from the quality of our trophies,” he said.
Trophy trout comprise a small portion of the 2 million trout catchable trout that ODFW releases in more than 300 locations around the state every year. The vast majority of these are referred to in the agency’s Trout Stocking Schedules as “legals” – which are released as soon as they are 8 inches long and meet the legal minimum size for retention fishing in Oregon. Fishery managers believe that shifting hatchery production to a higher percentage of larger fish may help spur interest in trout fishing in Oregon, which ODFW is promoting as a family-friendly outdoor activity through its Trout 365 campaign, 36 Family Fishing Events, and the Weekly Recreation Report.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
2017 Trophy Trout Releases
Alder Lake (180), Cleawox Lake (822), Dune Lake 180, Munsel Lake (600), Siltcoos Lagoon (141), Olalla Creek Reservoir (600), Big Creek Reservoir #2 (700), Big Creek Reservoir #1 (50), Thissell Pond (380) Eckman Lake (50), Cape Meares Lake (300), Coffenbury Lake (500), Lost Lake (300), Sunset Lake (150), Town Lake (300).
Applegate Reservoir (800), Lost Creek Reservoir (3,100), Fish Lake (1,800), Garrison Lake (1,000), Floras Lake (150), Libby Pond (250), Bradley Lake (400), Lower Empire Lake (650), Upper Empire Lake (650), Johnson’s Mill Pond (50), Powers Pond (250), Ben Irving Reservoir (1,000), Bowman Pond (200), Clearwater Bay-2 (100), Cooper Creek Reservoir (1,500), Hemlock Lake (1,600), Lake in the Woods (100), Lemolo Reservoir (1,700), Lake Marie (800), Red Top Lake (500).
Trojan Ponds (1,500), Harriet Lake (972), Huddleston Pond (225), Timothy Lake (2,500), Trillium Lake (533), Sheridan Pond (225), Olallie Lake (305), EE Wilson Pond (75), Junction City Pond (100).
Bend Pine Nursery (150), Prineville Youth Pond (300), Shevlin Pond (340), Fall River (400), Haystack Reservoir (75), Walton Lake (150), North Twin Lake (2,250), South Twin Lake (2,250), Antelope Flat (150), Hosmer Lake (150), Sparks Lake (125), Three Creek Lake (150), Rock Creek Reservoir (700), Pine Hollow Reservoir (200), Bikini Pond (50), Clear Lake (700), Lost Lake (1,600), Frog Lake (600), Pine Hollow Reservoir (750), Taylor Lake (750).
Willow Creek Reservoir (2,250), Murry Reservoir (250), Thief Valley Reservoir (500), Hwy. 203 Pond (625), Morgan Lake (250), Holliday Park Pond (100), 7th Street Pond (100), Weaver Pond (75), Marr Pond (400), Victor Pond (50), Kinney Lake (1,000), Phillips Reservoir (4,000), Weston Pond (200), Hatrock Pond (190), McNary Ponds (400), Salt Creek Pond (150), Cavender Pond (100), Honeymoon Pond (150), Teepee Pond (150), South Umatilla Forest Ponds (112), Twin Ponds (225), Brandon’s Pond (100), Wallowa Lake (1,600), North Umatilla Forest Ponds (270), South Walla Walla Forest Ponds (157), Bull Prairie Reservoir (690), Cutsforth Pond (90), McGraw Pond (125), Magone Lake (1,350), North Walla Walla Forest Ponds (180), Anthony Lake (3,450), Fish Lake (200), Twin Lake (200), Jubilee Lake (1,000), Long Creek Ponds (100).
Burns Gravel Pone (100), Fish Lake (500), Poison Creek Reservoir (200), Priday Reservoir (500), Lofton Reservoir (1,150), Holbrook Reservoir (1,250), Heart Lake (250), LD Bennett Pond (50), Vee Lake (100), Lake of the Woods (3,500), Fourmile Lake (2,500).
Information provided by ODFW